Hey Wicked Hunters,
This week we have an awesome conversation with Bret Blakely where he shares his approach to adding emotion to photography. Bret is a big believer in creating photography that means something to you before you even consider what others might have to think about it. Bret has master photography in such a short period of time and you can learn more about Bret’s work here:
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Bret Blakely 0:00
What’d you think expectations are for your photography from other people not letting that be the narrative
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 0:14
Hey Wicked Hunters, Welcome back to The Art of Photography podcast, where we share our passion and share how photography gives us hope, purpose and happiness. And today we have a guest who is so passionate about photography and about the wildlife. I am so excited to have him here. Hey, Brett, how you doing? Good. Good. How are you? I’m doing well. So welcome to the podcast. And I am so glad to have you here. I think you are the first wildlife photographer. Well, actually I have another like underwater but you’re like over over the over the land wildlife photographer above the water. Yeah. About the water. But you’re not you don’t only shoot wildlife, isn’t it? You like to do landscape as well? Is that? What’s so if you were is there like a type of like a genre that you like to shoot? Or do you just pretty much shoot anything?
Bret Blakely 1:15
Yeah, so I would actually call myself a landscape photographer that is just getting into wildlife because I fell in love with the photography about three years ago after a trip to Africa. And I wanted to learn everything like you know, I was I was like, Man, if I had good camera gear and like knew what I was doing and wasn’t shooting on auto. I was kind of bummed. I was like, I wish I could go back and do that again. So I made sure that yeah, that was really the catalyst and my first trip was to Yosemite. With a good buddy of mine, Adam, our Danny, he’s phenomenal. Landscape composition, everything is just so good. I learned a boatload but for the first like two and a half years, two years, it was all landscape. And then it was actually the quarantine it was the global pandemic that kind of made me switch. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved animals you know, always just got a huge heart for them. You know, I just love them love everything about and I think they’re so emotionally intelligent, so intelligent, you know, far beyond what we understand anyway, like, I feel like when you see an animal, you know, you can really, you can see the story behind that. And with not being able to travel, a lot of my trips being cancelled. For landscape it kind of, I don’t know, it just the guys are shooting with we’re like, Hey, let’s go try and get a fox, you know, let’s go try and do this. And so we started buying, you know, camo gear and blinds set up behind and you know, just getting all this stuff and like researching and it really created a passion for wildlife as well and I am still just as obsessed with landscape as ever, but now I am you know, it’s it’s equally matched by the wildlife portion of it, I just think there’s something about being able to look and capture an animal you know, it’s, I’m not a religious person, but it does feel almost spiritual when you you know, you’re able to connect, make eye contact with that animal or something. It’s just been a really fun experience. I think helping me develop you know, doing a different genre can absolutely help develop the other genre that you’ve been doing I am quicker to be able to figure out settings and you know, shoot in different light for my landscape now it’s a result of wildlife and vice versa, you know, you take a lot of those things and they they transfer over I think
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 3:41
yeah, cool. That’s that’s really cool story. I mean, I myself like to shoot wildlife but I just don’t have the passion to like not not passion to patient safety patient to like go after them. So I like to I like to call myself you know, if I see wildlife photographer, it’s there I’ll be ready. If not,
Bret Blakely 4:07
that is a dream. It is great when it’s just there for you. There is something to be said for the repeated failure and struggle to capture something how much more means you know when when it does. I just got back from the Grand Tetons yesterday from Wyoming and I had been wanting a shot of a bison the whole time and didn’t see one at all and the morning of my last second last day pretty much my last day because I left yesterday morning so the morning of my last day we went out for like three and a half hours. Did not see anything at all except for bald eagle which is great got some cool shots. But I was like I can’t believe because from you know being from Buffalo, New York, our sports seems like the bills and the Sabres a bison is the logo like that is our logo. I’m like I’m from Buffalo. I need to get a shot of a bye And, and sure enough, we went back out in the afternoon we were driving around for a couple hours, we saw some 200 plus yards 300 yard probably longer actually three 400 yards in the distance, had to find a spot to park through the snow shoes on, hiked a quarter half mile through, through the forest got to this open, clear. And it was I mean, no joke, it was about five feet deep of snow. I mean, even with snow shoes, every every step, you’re going on two and a half feet had to jump across two rivers to get close enough to shoot them. And then I got my bison shots. And then as I’m like finishing getting my bison shots, they all get up because they’re all just grazing in the snow pack wilderness. And they all get up and start stampeding across like it was unbelievable. You know, it’s one of those experiences you don’t forget, I’m like, you know, I’m glad that I didn’t get that bison shot just off the side of the road. You know, there’s an actual story behind it is cool.
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 5:55
Yeah, no, I can see that. It’s it’s usually the experience that really make the photo isn’t it? It’s how the first thing? Yeah, so how do you so how do you fall in love with landscape photography? And what really got you started in there? You know, why? Why all of a sudden, you know what, I want to be able to take beautiful landscape photos.
Bret Blakely 6:19
Yeah, so I’ve always been a picture guy. So when I say that I did take a little class and in high school, you know, when you actually make the prints yourself and everything. But when I say I was a picture guy, I was the guy who used to carry around. I’m not sure how old we are. But when I was a kid, so I’ll be 40 this summer. I mean, we had the disposable cameras, you know. So on spring break, whether, you know, in high school hanging out with the friends, I always had a disposable camera because I just wanted to make sure that I remember going to a restaurant. I mean, it didn’t had didn’t have to be anything special. But those memories of my friends. So they always used to tease me they’re like, you always have a disposable camera view. And then of course, when it was yearbook time, and they all needed photos for the yearbook. Who did they come ask me? So I think I always you know, really just like the, I guess the idea of of having memories to look back on. But yeah, it was and I’ve always loved to travel. I mean, always really have but even as a kid, I would sit in front of a sunset and take a picture with my disposable camera for every minute, the whole 30 minutes. You know, they’re like, why are you taking a picture of it every minute. I’m like, because it changes the light changes. I think it was like always inside me, but just never, never really did it. And then when I went to Rwanda with my now fiance, she, I mean, it was the most it was the furthest away I’d ever been outside of Japan when I was in like fifth grade. But you know, is the furthest I’ve ever been and just such a drastically different culture. Different landscape. I mean, I was just in awe the whole time. And, and I’d already started to be because of my friend Adam. I had been looking at his photography and I’m like, man, just I’m a creative person but had never put that part of creativity to the real test you know, and explore that. And so I was already kind of starting to get like an inch of like, man, maybe there’s something I want to try I love the stuff that he’s doing this is really cool. And then yeah, sure enough after I got back from the trip, I was like Screw this man, I gotta get a camera and I just went down the YouTube rabbit hole and you know, spent three hours a day learning everything in anything about what camera will gear, ISO aperture colour theory exposure triangle, like everything you could do for three months before he invited me then on that trip to Yosemite and so I’m like, it was basically my time to prepare before my first test, you know, and I took a little 16 millimetre lens, I had my kit lens that came with a Sony a six 300 and got to work and just fell in love with it there. That’s a hell of a place to start off landscape journey though, too. I mean, you’re talking about an iconic park, you know?
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 9:11
Awesome. Yeah, I mean, man, like, last time I went to Yosemite was probably when I was like 13 or something like that. And you know, when you’re a kid, you don’t really have that appreciation of you know, the place and like now looking back to this photos and just like, Ah, I don’t remember all these like, all these lodges is like, I gotta go back there. It’s it’s crazy. And I was supposed to go back to the US in last well about this time last year, but you know, when everything hits, I was like, man, you know, it’s gonna get a lot more complicated away from home so I decided to stay but um, yeah, like you sent me to being like, on my high on my bucket list to visit as well as a lot of the other national parks in the US, but it’s so interesting for you to hear that. So do you, how many disposable cameras do you go to take photo of this sunset? Because like,
Bret Blakely 10:17
okay, so no joke about so every spring break when I was a kid, you know, like, fifth grade through like high school, I would say, on average when I got back in one week’s time, I had 10 to 12 disposable cameras that I had to take and get developed. I mean, it was just like a guarantee, you know, and don’t get me wrong there were there were no bangers out of those. It was just like, a kid who was just super excited and in love with the sunset and like the beach and everything. And yeah, so it was it was bad. I spent, I can’t imagine how much money I spent getting disposable cameras developed when I was a kid I probably read if I had never done that
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 10:57
is hilarious. Sorry. I was just like off topic there. But it’s, I was so interested to hear that because you’re not. I know the feeling like I have that as well. It’s like, it’s like, oh, okay, sounds like coming down a little bit. It’s like, oh, it’s like just stats like different, you always want to capture it. On this. It’s
Bret Blakely 11:15
like, you don’t want to miss it sometimes, like you have to almost put the camera down for a second be like, let me just watch this for you know, yeah, it’s tough. Being in love with photography is, you know, you get to you put yourself in a position to see these beautiful moments. And, you know, you you kind of look at things differently, where you really do appreciate a sunrise or a sunset or anything, you know, flowers away, they’re whispering across the field, whatever. But then the curse of it is that sometimes you’re always caught up having your camera because you’re like, I want to make sure that I remember that specific second of that sunset. And that you know, I mean, so it’s, it’s a gift and a curse. I would say way more of a gift though.
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 12:02
Awesome. Yeah, that’s that’s very, that’s very true. Like, you’re right, because like, you know, when you I actually have to force myself to leave the camera behind. Yeah, because you know, I get this FOMO Fear Of Missing Out is like, oh, man, what if just what if, you know, there’s like, one shot that I could get, you know, as I progress you I have to leave it behind. Because like, otherwise, you’re right. Like, I can’t enjoy the moment. Like, I’d be like, Oh, that’s beautiful. And you know, as a photographer, we see this beauty on everything, right? So we constantly take photos, so heads on
Bret Blakely 12:41
a swivel constantly, like you’re never just looking forward. You’re always you know, doing this and everything because you’re like, I don’t want to miss anything figured out, can I pull over here? It’s like, No, dude, you’re in the middle of the highway, you’re gonna cause an accident, and you can’t pull over here to get the fucking sunlight.
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 12:59
It’s a Lariat. So how do you find that balance for yourself? What what, like, you know, what had been working for you where, you know, there’ll be moments where it’s so beautiful that you just enjoy it. And then there’ll be moments that it’s so beautiful that you just working on capturing it? How do you find that balance?
Bret Blakely 13:18
I don’t know that I’ve done it effectively yet. You know, I think I think it’s struggle every time. But a lot of the balance to comes from, in my opinion, like, are the moments that aren’t necessarily we’re pulling out the camera and setting up a tripod or whatever, but it’s like the, you know, the hike to get to the spot. You know, those are just a special two. And those are things that you can fully take in whether you’re just whether you’re with a couple buddies, and everyone’s just kind of quiet in their own head as they’re hiking, or you’re maybe just telling jokes throughout the whole thing, or it’s sketchy and you’re laughing about how scared shitless you want to you know, those are just as important, if not more important, you know, like, they always talk about how it’s the journey, not the destination. And I do think a lot of those that I think a lot of that resonates. And I think then actually, you know, I guess the way I’d say I don’t balance but I don’t have too much guilt over it. Because that final picture is not just a picture of that. Second, it’s the final scene in what was a movie that day for you. You know, it’s like that that one picture allows you to see from minute one to minute 120 of that movie that took you to that image. So for you personally, it encapsulates all those memories. It’s like, you know, if you smell something and it can take you back to a memory that lasts an entire year of your childhood, maybe you know and this way I think it’s the same thing you know, for us. The reason I think photography is so addictive and important to the photog for themselves, and why it’s so important that they capture things for themselves is because for them, it’s not just another good looking picture that they’re swiping through and double tapping, you know, like, that’s, that’s, that’s other photographers for them. But that picture to them is like a whole movie. It’s a whole scene, it’s maybe five hours of that day, maybe 10 hours of that day, it’s a trip, you know, it’s friends that you made on that trip, like, I can’t wait to go through all these Grand Teton shots, because the two guys that took me out Hayden and Arthur, like, they literally were the best hosts, you know, I met them through Instagram, never met in person, and these guys got up every single morning, picked me up at 5am and took me to the best spots for sunrise, we, you know, hang out all day, they take me out to shoot at night, we’d all go to dinner every night. Like they both ski and snowboard, they didn’t ski or snowboard the that whole week, they took off work, like just to show me around and, and it was like that trip all the all the pictures that I get to go through now. And again, I absolutely have memories that are directly attached to them, you know, and that’s how it is every time.
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 16:15
That’s awesome, man. That’s awesome, man. You know, that’s, it’s a big lesson learned there. And you just want to bring this up a little bit, because you might not notice it. But it’s true. Like photography, it’s not always about that destination. And I used to get caught up in that a lot. When I first started, you know, I used to go to places to get the iconic shot and I would go I would literally do the thing where people go to the place, take the iconic shot take like, you know, like 2030 of the same view, right? The same way tourists view you get in the postcard view. And then you go to the next spot. And for that reason, like I miss I miss so many, like, cool perspective and cool things that happen in you know, apart from this frame that I’m always looking at an observer that so I think that’s such an important thing to raise. And you know that’s why I call it like my photography the wicked hunt because like for me it’s about the hunt for those you know, for this photo it’s not it’s not always about the N photo that that really mean something that handful is just the trophy, isn’t it?
Bret Blakely 17:27
Yeah, I love that. That you just kind of gave me an insight into your Instagram name. That’s cool that like That’s badass or wicked hunt. It was actually funny though, too, because, you know, you talked about like the iconic shots and when you go to a place like Yosemite or Grand Tetons, it’s impossible not to, to you know, be confronted with those opportunities to get the iconic shot because they’re iconic for a reason. Because they’re amazing compositional opportunity, you know, to unities the lighting is great. The view of the mountains so like my, my personal challenge to myself going out there before this was to really try and like expand compositionally, and try and try and just get very creative with the way I was shooting things and I’m I’m super excited because not only were there a lot of shots at like, I don’t do a lot of minimalism. And I took a bunch of ones that I’m really excited about. I mean the atmosphere lent itself for it, you know, just like simple you know, one tree amongst this like ferocious mood in the background. The Tetons have covered things like that. But even like the the the first shot that I posted from the two times trip, that’s an iconic view, it’s up at Target the pass and you’re the roads going down, and you’re looking at it. And what was funny is that me and the other guys were all shooting there. And I kept waiting for a car something just to make it a little bit different. And then as you’ll see at the bottom left of it, there’s a huge snow cloud and all you can see are the headlights through it. That was a snow plough coming in the other direction, which is why it push all this snow in front of it, which is why you couldn’t see the car. And when that car started coming up everyone was when I got off the road and went back to the car and I stayed out and shot it because I’m like this can make an iconic shot. Just a little bit different. And my buddy was like, Dude, that’s awesome. He’s like, Man, I saw that I was gone. And I look back and you’re out there shooting and he’s like, because I genuinely don’t want any signs of like human life in my photos he goes, but that kind of made that shot. I’m like, sweet so that you know, I think it’s good to always like when you’re travelling somewhere or even if you’re just going out in your neighbourhood, whatever. Like think of a way to challenge yourself because for me, it made me really reevaluate the way I go about shooting things. I mean, I’m happy that I really tried to push myself and there may be shots at you know, I should have just gone with a more Standard composition or something, because maybe I didn’t pull it off as much as I think I did or something. But I think that’s part of a great way to grow. And now I’m, like, really excited for a lot of these shots. And, you know, I think a lot of people shoot the same subject, but I’m hoping I did it in a really different way. And that’ll just make me better for the next time I go out and shoot, you know?
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 20:24
Yeah, that’s really well put, and you know, like in this photography, it’s funny because people say, this, this genre is so so saturated. And I think the reason why it’s saturated is for that reason that you just mentioned, right? People, like, go to this iconic place, and just try to take that one photo. But as you said, like, you don’t have to stop there. Like, just because, like, don’t get me wrong. I take iconic photos all the time. But it doesn’t mean you have to stop there. Right? What the one word that I was, that really struck me from one of the other podcasts or the pot? Yeah, the guests that I have in this podcast was the word open mind, like, you know, approach a scenery with an open mind that really sum up everything. It’s like, yeah, of course, like, you know, if you get there, of course, you want to get the iconic shot, but approach it with an open mind, maybe there is some other thing and like you say, like, with your experience in grand, Grand Teton, you know, like, you’re like, you’re shooting this iconic view, but then it’s like, Oh, something else happened. And if you have that open mind, you will notice that bit. But yeah, I remember back when I first started, I would be frustrated with those car, right? I would be like, Oh, come on, get away, I wonder is like, I caught each other. So that’s, I think that’s the important bit is like, you know, like, yeah, of course, like, you know, the iconic is great. But if you have it with an open mind, you might, you know, the things that you think is a distraction might actually be the hero of your shot, or the focal point, or the things that are in and out. So,
Bret Blakely 22:02
yeah, I had any comments or like those headlights, because if it wasn’t a snow plough, either, like it still would have been cool. But the fact that it created a camouflage and it looked almost like to Animalize you know, just peeking through the snow, it just added a tonne and like so that’s again, having an open mind. Like, that’s just a little bit of luck. I have that same shot from that morning without a car in it. But I went with that one because I’m like, You know what, it’s, it’s kind of different. I always I also think that you know, expectations, always not always, they can lead to disappointment. And in any facet of life, you know, relationships in, I mean in anything, and I think having an open part of having having an open mind is trying to, you know, alleviate some of the expectation, stress and anxiety that we put on ourselves like I’m expecting there to be perfect light I’m expecting there to be no cars I’m expecting there to be no other people that I have to worry about getting my shot and like, like you said, you know, having an open mind and maybe not having expectations but just going to enjoy and being like you know, I’m going to go there and just try and do something totally different not have not worry about if I get the iconic shot or not. If it’s there, go ahead and take it so you have it out of the way and then you can like take a couple breaths and be like alright, now let me try shooting it this way. You know, if you shot a vertical shoot, shoot or if you have not in the foreground, put something in the foreground or get behind something in the foreground. You know change the angle like anything have an open mind because you might think that the one that everybody’s gotten before that you want to get because you know it’s going to be popular and it will work because it’s like a proven composition. They might be like Dude, I’ve never seen a take on on that shot before I’ve seen a shot a million times I’ve never seen it like that and then you’re like alright, sweet outlines, outlines the best
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 23:58
well, those kinds of shots, you know are the one that makes you happy, isn’t it? That’s the one that really gives you a full fulfilment from photography and it’s it’s no one it’s something that not a lot of people talk about but it’s having a good photo is like a good start. But once you can progress to it, you want to be able to capture what’s yours. So that’s it that’s really well iterated and explained. So thanks for sharing that that’s really really cool insights from from your way of thinking so I love that I absolutely love it. So when do you is Was there ever a turning point in your photography journey that kind of shift I mean you already kind of mentioned a little bit about you know this pandemic and a half you that bigger shift towards more of the wildlife but during early on in your photography journey on you know, finding your photog Have you start on finding what you really like on, you know, shooting landscape from that first shot that you take in, in Yosemite to now, what are some of the biggest shifts? And in your photography?
Bret Blakely 25:18
Well, I mean, as you know, we all I mean, I even still like the amount that I learned on on this trip, and I’m three years into my photography journey. So I feel like I somewhat know what I’m doing. But the amount that I learned on this trip was crazy. At times, you don’t even realise it. So I would say like, the first trip is to semi second one was Iceland, and the third one was Oregon. So you’re dealing with a tonne of variety of like weather conditions, rain, snow, but you’re also getting like, what a blessing like those were such cool places to shoot, I have to go back to all of them because I butchered so many of the of the first shots and opportunities. So I think, especially from shooting with, like I went on all three of those with Adam, Danny who’s so good compositionally that he I think probably accelerated, the way I look at landscapes and like, made me look outside just a classic take on something because, you know, when you first start, you’re disappointing shoot, like, you don’t think I’m gonna get low, I’m gonna get high, I’m gonna have a quarter of the frame covered by you know, flowers, or I’m going to shoot in between or look for the Sun Star, there’s just so many things that you don’t do. Because all you’re worried about just making sure it’s in focus at first, you know, first time and just making sure you don’t butcher the settings, because if you’re trying to learn and shoot on manual and everything you’re like, so this is it’s just so I mean, it was a big learning experience. But I think the biggest shift has also just been necessarily biggest shift. But one of the highlights is been when I felt, and it probably took about a year and a half when I felt like I finally understood postprocessing enough that I could have I could really bring a picture to the vision that I want, you know, like I, I know how to make it something that I want. I’m still I would say an okay, Editor. In my part, like I just have very high expectations. I know a lot of people that I think are way better at editing. One thing that I don’t do is I don’t try and make every photo look the same. I don’t use any presets, I literally start from scratch and every photo because I don’t care if it matches the last one. And there’s usually enough usually the season provides enough consistency or like little hints of the same colours, you know, I mean, but for me, I know you’ll notice even even the way my grid is I really don’t care about the grid i i do landscape wildlife, landscape, wildlife, dark, light, dark, light colour, you know, decent, it really doesn’t matter, as long as it looks good for that image, because I’m more concerned of how’s it gonna look as a print. You know, Instagram is great, but I don’t personally need for all of them to have the exact same preset on them or colour tone. And there are artists that do that phenomenally, so it’s no knock on them, I just don’t think I am skilled enough to turn anytime of day, anytime of anything into you know, a very, very similar looking, colour tone type of things. So I think, you know, getting to the point where I felt like, I knew enough of how to not only capture the photo and field but then really put kind of a little bit of my own style is the biggest part. And for me, I’m a super passionate guy. Very much live my life led by emotion, which isn’t always a good thing. But you know, I just whether it’s relationships or things that I get really excited about stuff. I’m basically like 39 and a half year old kid. But I think for me like that’s what my that’s what I hope my style
expresses is that like, I want people to feel something. And a lot of a lot of especially in the winter, I was on a clubhouse room and we were talking about style and the one guy had said yeah, I’m looking at your stuff he’s like, I just love your style, he said but I can tell you’re kind of a dark person I’m like actually quite the opposite just because a lot of my work has very, especially in the winter very moody like I love stormy clouds. I love that, but has nothing to do with negativity for me for me like it’s almost a polar opposite. Those represent like life in the scariest moments like when you feel most alive is when you get these just unique, not normal conditions that come together in this perfect storm. So I really love mood and stuff but not because I’m a dark person So just because to me, it’s it signifies a very intense emotion. So even if it’s a bright mood, I mean, I would say my style is just it’s going to be something that I hope makes, you know, the viewer feel something. Because usually if I’m posting it means that I felt something from it, you know, it means something to me.
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 30:23
Awesome. Thanks for sharing that. And I think, like, I’m the same, I’m horrible at grades go from like, bright yellow to moody, like. And it’s, it’s great. I think that for you to share that because I guess especially Instagram, right, Instagram had really make that perspective very, very strongly. Because, for for for a point in time, that was the one thing that people think that will bring growth to the Instagram. So right, a lot of people got into that. I know that some people are not doing it intentionally, that they literally just like that kind of mood. But I know there are a lot of other influencers and photographers who actually try to curate, curate, they their colour tone and stuff, and I don’t have the patience for it to actually, like, do all that. And I think that that’s, that’s great that you share that because you’re absolutely right, in terms of you know, every every photo have its own feeling like if you got a bright yellow, a full colour, and then you want to make it moody, it just doesn’t work, isn’t it? Like it’s, it’s absolutely a different scenery? And and, yeah, so that’s, that’s really great. Like to hear that, I think there’s a lot of inspiration there to be had there. For the listeners to see that, you know, photography is about that moment, like, what is that moment how that makes you feel? And actually, in some of my photo, I would have more of a dreamy kind of fine art look at some more often nature look, because that’s how that that’s that moment makes me feel, you know, so yeah, absolutely, absolutely love that you share that. And, yeah, I think a lot of listeners can learn a lot from this. So
Bret Blakely 32:22
it’s almost just like not letting that letting a grid or, again, like, what you think expectations are for your photography from other people. Not letting that be the narrative. Like that should not be what narrates how you and affects how you edit, because like, there’s no way that you felt the same or had the same memories in one shot to another. And that is what should determine the direction you go. You know, when you’re editing that, not not the other way around. So
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 32:53
that’s awesome. So with that in mind, this is the next question. And you know, because you mentioned about your conversation in clubhouse about finding the style. So yeah, in your, in your perspective, right, what is style in photography, because you know, if you can just do you know, like, we proceed style as a colour tone as a this, this very monochromatic of genre that you could see that, you know, when people see, your photo is like, Okay, I know, that’s, that’s Brad’s photo, right? But if you kind of have a different interpretation of that image, you could go from one one extreme to another for that reason. So what what what, in your opinion, what is style? And you know, how can you create a style if you approach your photography? It within the moment? Not? Not really collectively?
Bret Blakely 33:54
Yeah, I mean, there’s something to be said that the way that I go about it may not be the most conducive to having like a absolutely identifiable style, you know, that and that may be it just where do you put that on your priority list? Is it you know, is being recognisable from the first second, I the way I look at is I think the consistent consistency needs to come from the quality if it’s a good looking shot, they’re going to look at who made it you know, they’re gonna they’re not going to need to necessarily be like, Oh, well the Greens don’t look the same as the last one I saw so it’s probably not Hibs. You know, I feel like the quality is what should be what defines your style but like I said, for me I always think it’s better to have you know, your style defined by something personal. I mean, genre is going to be a lot of it. There aren’t very many people that go way outside their genre not to say that our I mean I do landscape and wildlife. There are people that do product people city or you know, I mean all on one. But usually it’s something in the same vein. So that’s part of the way you know what style, there’s a quarter genre as far as minimalist or whatever. And, like I said to you, I’m going to be a lot of stuff, all posts are going to be in tight or artsy crap shots, too, there may be a way back out massive grandiose type landscape to a minimalist shot, like, so you won’t even be able to think of, oh, well, there’s a style there too. But I just think I think style is gonna be so different from for everyone, it’s kind of almost impossible for me to say, how somebody should find their style, because what it should come from is what what’s motivating them to go out and shoot in the first place. So whatever that might be, is, I think, where you’re going to eventually find yourself, of course, you have to also do the work and put in the time to learn postprocessing. So that you’re able to execute on your vision, like you don’t want to have this fully, you know, thought out, I guess, motivation style in your head, and then just not have the skill set to be able to do it. And there’s nothing that you know, anybody can just just do the work, put the time into learning the programmes, and you’ll be able to, to bring it to life. But yeah, I think that’s kind of the most important thing is just making sure you find it for motivation. I actually have a question then for you. Because when I did the finding your style room, I had like five questions I was gonna go through for that room. And we got stuck on the second one for like, two hours because people were really into it. And my question to them, if you don’t mind me asking you a question is, do you think? And I’ll answer to after? Do you think that your style has been? is more representative, representative of your life experiences up to this point, like as have your life experiences influenced your style? Or do you think photography has changed the way you look at the world, like which of those do you think has been had more of an impact, you know, one being on your style and one on life?
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 37:06
That’s interesting. That’s really interesting. And I saw that the room when it was in a clubhouse, but I was like, I kind of like jump in there. And I was like, oh, man, this, I would love to get into this conversation. But I had to go, so I had to get out of clubhouse. But that’s a really, really interesting topic there. For me, I think, wow, I really never think about that. That’s, you know, I think a lot about my my life and my experience, I’m more like philosophy cool, but I never think about that. So that’s really interesting. But the way I approach life is really sorry, the way I approach photography, or the photo that I take is really, more in the moment, I believe, you know, if it’s a photo itself, like, when I like, take the photo, I really tried to think what I feel there, and that’s why I think some of the photo that I take can be more have like a more subtle edit to it with, like, you know, like more natural looks. And with that one, usually, I’m more, I’m more attached to the nature part of it. And I just like, you know, I love the nature and, you know, with that moment, it felt like the nature was the most important thing. And then and at other times, you know, there might be like, I might enhance, like the colour and you know, bring that out a little bit more and more hot, have more of a fine art look to it. Because at that time, I feel more about the vibrance and the excitement that I would get from you know, what it may look like. So the way I approach it really, I really tried to feel and think how I, how I actually felt during that photoshoot? What was the emotion that gone through it? And, you know, when I see that photo itself, what was the emotion that that photo brings to me and I think that’s the way I approach both editing and, like, composition wise in photography, but as the general inventory photography I think photography would have more impact. Yeah, yeah. Cuz, like I said, like, it really changed my life. You know, photography, I’m not a patient guy. You know, and when I when I was a kid man, like I could not stand still, you know, I always on a roll, like literally, you know, and now I would literally like I would sit on my my tripod up and I would sit there in front of, you know, whatever scenery may be, and I’m may or may not take a photo, but more often than not, I would stay longer in that place and actually absorb and observe about the environment and what happened around it. And that really that was real The big shift and you know, I had a lot more appreciation for the smaller things, you know, like just the small texture and the small, you know, the low and tree like I never looked at, I never looked at three the same way how I do photography? And I think that’s that’s a positive impact in my life because yeah, like you just see the, like we mentioned earlier when you take like, photography, right? I have a lot of students who kind of just get started in photography, because, you know, the masterclass that I put on is about, like more about the beginning. And, you know, I do plan to create another one, but, and for that reason, like, I think a lot of my students can have the struggle as well. And I can see where they go, like, like, oh, yeah, I’m in this place. There’s nothing interesting here is like, look, again, because I can bet you there is something interesting there. It’s like, I mean, I walk through there every single day. It’s like, yeah, okay, you walk there. But do you actually look deeper and look at different perspective, because, you know, like, we’re on automotive, we go drive to the same place all the time, we don’t think about it, we just go like, Get in the car, drive park, there you are. But when I do photography, totally different. Even if it’s the same place of going to all the time I go like, okay, so like, there is the big thing, there’s the mountain or there is the waterfall, but it’s like, what else is there? So I think photography have a bigger impact. How does that? Is that something that you relate, you can relate with? Or how has that been a different effect for yourself?
Bret Blakely 41:46
So it’s funny, because when I posed the question, I had an answer in my head that I had that day, and I’ll give again, but then the more I think about I’m like, Man, both have had such a massive, you know, impact. But for me, what I answered originally was that, I think my, my style of photography was more influenced by my life experiences than necessarily the way I looked at the world. And the reason I would still probably say that is because I’ve always appreciated that I maybe wasn’t as good at finding the subtle beauties, you know, before photography, like, photography has allowed my eyes to definitely see the world more clearly, I think and really, like spot those beautiful things. But from a personality standpoint, and everything, I think I’ve always been somebody that like, I mean, like I said, I was a kid, taking a picture of a sunset, you know, every minute for 30 minutes in fifth grade, even I didn’t have the equipment or skill to take good picture of it. Like, I still very much appreciate that part of the world. So I was gonna say, overall, I think the bigger, you know, shift or impact from one to the other would be I think the reason I like emotion, emotional photos and stuff like that, and moody things are, because that had more of an impact. I feel like I started photography seriously three years ago. And I definitely think like, right from the bat, just because I’ve always been that type of person that you know, has a heart on his sleeve type thing, and I can cry at a commercial, I have no problem mitigate, you know, I have no problem. Being sensitive, I think that did shape, my style, or what I want it to be, as a photographer from the beginning, even when in the beginning, I definitely didn’t know how to express that I didn’t know how to post process or turning the images that I was getting on my first few trips into, you know, what, I guess would hope like, if I have to go back, like I said, because I want to redo those and receive those places and be able to really create that emotion with the post process as much as the image that I get there that I just didn’t know what I was doing enough, you know, in the first year of photography, so
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 44:09
Yeah, interesting. Yeah, that’s really interesting. And I think this is what really frustrated me about photography, and the social media. Actually, I don’t know if social media is to blame. But I think in general, we tried to put labels on everything, like you know, just, like, just approach it with an open mind. Like, you know, like, just because that person approach to photography is different doesn’t mean you’re, they’re wrong. Like it’s just different. And I think that is the beautiful thing about this, isn’t it? Like that’s what make life is beautiful, right? Because everyone is different. But yeah, when you try to put a label on everything, like we, I’m, I’m really, you know, one of the thing that I came with a mission when when I left my job and pursue this career, which I I truly felt in the first eight months was to share the unseen perspective of the world, right. And I think perspective is really important because we can learn from each other’s perspective. And when you put a label, unfortunately, whether we like it or not, we really get this, like, Horsh eyes, right, that we go, like, Oh, I think, even though they, they might try to think outside the box, but there is like, a box vision, exactly a tunnel vision. So, you know, I love how you, you know, this, like, conversation been awesome, because like, we just bounce different perspective and different ideas, because that’s how we should approach photography, like, you know, somebody like it really saturated and vibrance, like maybe it’s not your forte, maybe it’s not the best look. But if that’s something that really bring them happiness, you know, it’s, is that really a problem? Because, right, right, and
Bret Blakely 45:59
this would be for them, like, yes, we want other people to like our work, we hope that that’s a bonus. But the end of the day, like, it’s, if you’re not, if you’re doing it for that, then you’re already behind the game, that shouldn’t be doing it for your own for the right reasons. And that’s why I like what we talked about with the style thing. First, figure out what your motivation is, because otherwise, your style is going to change so many times, and it’s fine. If it does, but not if it’s for the wrong reasons. If you’re going to change it every time there’s a new trend of editing or whatever, then good luck, like you’re gonna get so burned out, because you’re gonna try and learn a new trend, and you’re never going to be as good as you need it to be quick enough for until then it’s not a trend. You’re like, oh, I finally mastered it. Now it’s off to the next, you know, trend. So yeah,
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 46:48
that’s it. Yeah, exactly. So, you know, with that in mind, let me ask you this, like, how? How do you personally try to fight that urge of, you know, this, this tunnel vision that I guess, our environment with the social media? A lot of them have really put that on us? Right? Yeah, you know, the website travels, if you travel a lot, when you, when you look at the website, it has this iconic shot all the time. And, you know, whether you like it or not, it really kind of great, you know, like, it really changed the way you see. And it really like when you get to that shot, they go like, Oh, yeah, this is this place. So how do you how do you fight that urge and, you know, try to look outside of the box.
Bret Blakely 47:36
I mean, to be honest, it’s I my urge is to not do that, like I don’t, I don’t really have to fight that urge. Because I don’t have that urge. I, I really want I want I consider so many photographers that are way better than me, way better than I’ll ever be, no matter how much work I put into it. It could be they’re better post product could be they’re better at everything, like, I am still a beginner photographer, three years is not a long time, there are people that have been shooting for 2025, you know, I, I only work in Lightroom, I barely know how to do a thing on Photoshop, it’s one of the things that are my goals for this year to to learn Photoshop and stuff, not because I want to change a bunch of stuff, but just because they’re little things that I can, you know, due to lights and shadows, dodging and burning and stuff that I you know, I can do pretty well on Lightroom. But I’m sure to be able to do do better. So for me, it’s like, I always just want to try and push myself to be creative, where what I get in field is like the foundation, and what I get field is already going to be different enough that I don’t need to worry about like, processing it in a way that’s going to fit a certain trend. I feel like if I if I push myself enough out in the field, and walk away with something that I’m really happy about, then there’s zero urge anyway, that’s going to like filter into that, my into my mindset, you know, going into post processing. So I think if you can get comfortable with that, and like kind of put more of the pressure on yourself, then, you know, let me be creative enough to see this scene that everybody sees in a way that nobody has, or very few people have. Because that’ll make your photo stand out more than anything. And then just you know, I don’t think that post processing and the trends of that will be nearly as much of an issue because you’re already you’re already going to the post processing. Happy with the picture for yourself. So then you’re you’re not going to feel an urge Well, I don’t know if I really like it. So maybe I should just go towards something that everybody likes. I can get that. You know that endorphin from everybody being like, ah, sick man, I love that, you know, sick tones. It’s if you’re already happy with the photo before even touching in the editing, then it’s not going to really be a determining factor. By the end how, you know, I think that urge is almost a moot point. It’s not existent.
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 50:06
Awesome. Yeah. So what what would you what would you say to someone who, you know, have this kind of struggle and urge or? Or not really have struggle? Or they might, they might not notice it right? But what would you say to the people out there who, who kind of struggled to get out of the comfort zone or who want to be able to capture a more unique photos? Than you know, the typical postcard or Instagram shot? What? You know, Wes, what are some of your mindset shifts that you can pass on to them? Yeah.
Bret Blakely 50:45
So a lot of times I sent my, one of my good friends came out to two towns with me who’s not a photographer, but he loves the outdoors. And so he borrowed his mom’s camera just so we’d have something to take. And every day, you know, just like most photographers, you point and shoot, like, you know, not thinking about anything else. And like, as I can I give you some advice, like just ways to go about it, you know, because trust me, every photographer does what you’re doing the first time they have a camera out, and of course out there, there was so much to see just like smiling and taking pictures. So happy, right? Like a like a pig and shit and, and suddenly, but no matter what level of photographer I mean, now I find myself often like I got so I guess trained to shoot in Portrait mode because of Instagram. And then I started getting print requests. And I’m like, Oh my God, I need it for like people like prints and horizontal. A lot of times, like, sometimes portrait mode is not really the best mode so often often shoot the same scene, vertical, horizontal, high perspective, low perspective, have, you know, core recovered with a foreground element perspective. You know, I’ll basically it was a challenge I put out to one of the rooms that was doing clubhouse would try and shoot something five different ways. And then try and edit it five different ways, you know, totally different fields, because that also helps people that don’t really know what their style is figure it out. And also just give you flexibility, especially if you’re selling prints or something if a client wants, like, Man, I love that shot, but I wish I had, you know, I needed to cover a hole, I need to be three feet wide or something or two feet wide, then you’re like, actually, I have that shot. You know, I’ve got that shot too. So don’t worry. So that’d be one thing, I would say, try and shoot, try and find five different compositions within a little, you know, three by three foot area that you stand in, you know, shoot a high, shoot a low shoot it all different ways on a tripod with a long exposure without a long exposure. And that’s one thing. And then yeah, I would also just say, the more you become comfortable with postprocessing, the more you continue like that learning process, I think that’s another way that you will not feel you will not feel pressured to fit into a trend. Because there’s when there’s a trend, there’s always a video on how to do that trend. So yeah, it can be easy for you to just be like, how to edit like so and so and then they’re gonna find a video. And it will literally walk you through your photo, like I did that in the beginning, that’s supposed to find out how to do things like I didn’t really understand how the light you know, the colour sliders were affecting and colour calibration, it’s a great way to learn. Like if there are people that you I don’t recommend not doing that as far as a learning tool. But I want to go about that and be like, Well, I’m just going to find whoever taught and that trend find a YouTube for it. So one thing that I’ve been doing this whole year, it’s been my goal for 2021 to watch at least one tutorial video every night on anything real photography related doesn’t always have to be whatever I feel like I need to get better at because for the first year, I was first six, nine months, I was watching all the time I was obsessed, then I just became more concerned with just getting out and shooting all the time and kind of forgot to continue the learning. And then I was like, you know, I there’s still so much I need to learn. And you know, just even going back to some of the basic ones. It’s good to like hammer those in. So I always challenge people to try and like commit. It’s the last thing I do before I go to bed every night is just watch you know, a 15 to 30 minute YouTube video. Sometimes I take notes sometimes I don’t even I just let it sink in. And then lo and behold, I noticed you know, two weeks later on post processing, and this technique I didn’t even remember that I knew how to do from a video I watched you know two weeks ago I’m like, Oh, this would be great. They’re great photo to try that on. So, you know that’ll that’ll help a lot. You know, once you have once you’re more in control of of how something’s gonna turn out you’re not really going to feel the need to, I guess get into a trend I think.
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 55:03
Awesome. Yeah. Like, that’s, that’s really awesome. Absolutely love that. And there’s a lot of really good advice in there. You know, if you are listening, you might want to just rewind back to that fortune because that is such an amazing advice, especially, you know, for someone who kind of just started because I remember when I first started who just shot on on on phone? That’s exactly what I did. I was, you know, I don’t know, what’s what’s, what’s composition is that I was curious, just like you and you shooting sunset, I would do like, literally I would be like, take one here, take one here and like, you know, just like snap happy, right? So people call it is you just take a whole bunch of photos and you know, at the end of it all when you have when all of those adrenaline kinda like toned down a little bit when you come back home, you know, you don’t have the excitement that just make you push the button, you could actually think about it a little bit more and see, you know, which one kind of works. I didn’t amazing advice. And you know, it’s it’s so easy to do, like, I know, like, as photographers, sometimes we get lazy, right? To kind of do this. It sounds like it’s tedious. Like what take five photo of the same exact thing. Are you crazy? So it’s great that you mentioned that because I think it’s it’s one of the best thing to to learn in, in photography, or actually in anything for that matter, because you get to see what works and what doesn’t. Well, right, that’s, you know, like, Man, I had so much fun, would love to have a chat more, we kind of come into the hour mark, and I’m not sure how much longer our listeners can can listen. But I definitely would love to have you back at some point. You know, I had, I had so much fun, just bouncing ideas from you and so many things that just really opened up my mind just like wow, I never really think about that. And I think you know, just the way you you, you you share your advice, your wisdom. One thing that I really want to make sure if you are listening is to have that open mind like you know, like Brett really, really share a lot of his wisdom and really share how you could broaden your view instead of you know, and there is no right answer here. Like there’s just so important to really hone that in. So Brett, you have such amazing not only advice but also you have such a beautiful gallery of photos and now for those people who cannot want to get in touch with your connect with you or you know see more of your work. What is the best way for them to find you?
Bret Blakely 57:53
Oh yeah, for sure man and thank you so much for the discussion. I really enjoyed it. Definitely hope we get to shoot together one day but yeah, to find me I mean, Brent Blakely just be R et de la que el y that’s my Instagram. I respond to every single direct message I get. I try and remain very engaged because it helped me out a lot. You know, when I reached out to names and I remember the ones that did and you know, and it’s just not cool. Like when somebody is trying to learn ask you for advice or even if they’re just giving you a compliment. I think I think you know ignoring those is really messed up. We’re all the exact same you know, living on the same world so that’s easy. You can DM me on Instagram, I’m on Facebook, Brent Blakely photography. I do have a website Brent Blakely dot dark excuse me dark room dot tech right now it’s just an easy you know basic site that sells prints I’m going to be working on one that has more storytelling behind it that you know I have videos from my adventures from and blogs and things like that. But that’s just that’s a 2021 goal it’s not you know not ready yet but if someone’s interested in Prince Brett Blakely that dark room devtech
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 59:09
Awesome awesome and listeners if you you know if you’re tuning in and if you’re listening to this discussion, highly recommend to have a look at his gallery because his photo is just so beautiful and and you know, whatever he say here it’s it’s very true like you go to to his gallery, you can see all sorts of stuff, you know, from different genre and I think that makes it really interesting and dynamic to to enjoy. So yeah, highly recommend to check out his work and also
Bret Blakely 59:45
they got to check out your work because their stuff is amazing and I love it.
Stanley Aryanto – The Wicked Hunt 59:48
Appreciate that right. But look, listeners. Thank you very much for tuning in. I hope you have a tonne of wisdom from on that on how to approach your photography, as well as how to think about what is photography, because it’s really important that it is about you before you make it about everything, everyone else. So I think that’s one thing that I really want to hone in in this discussion. And, you know, for those of you listen, if you enjoy this episode or the podcast, please help me out and shoot that like button, hit the subscribe button. Next time you get more of this golden nugget in, you know, in that you get to listen to beautiful inspiration for all photographers all around the world from all the different experience. So thanks a lot for tuning in wiki hunters. And, Brett again. Thank you so much for sharing a lot of your wisdom. It had been such an A fun hour. And you know what, like, I started this podcast because when I wanted to hear more inspiration and happiness in this darker times, but you know, this podcast every time I talk to a new photographer had really bring like a lot of inspiration for myself. So thanks a lot for bringing that to the table. And yeah, I think thank you very much for sharing your time and wisdom with us. My pleasure.
Bret Blakely 1:01:22
Such a cool honour to be on and thanks a lot. Keep killing it. I’ll be in touch with you for sure.